In the Courts: Seventh Circuit Reinstates Lawsuit of Lesbian Resident Whom Other Residents Harassed, Threatened, and Assaulted

November 30, 2018 | Aging Services Risk, Quality, & Safety Guidance

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Interpreting the federal Fair Housing Act (FHA), the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit has reinstated the lawsuit of an independent-living resident whom other residents harassed and assaulted because she was gay. In so ruling, the court reversed the district court's dismissal of the lawsuit and remanded it for further proceedings.

The plaintiff moved into the community after her partner died. Her tenant's agreement provided for three meals per day, access to the community room, and use of the laundry. A few months after she moved in, other residents began to insult her, using derogatory terms to describe her sexual orientation. One resident taunted her about the mass shooting at the Orlando nightclub, threatened dismemberment, and insulted her son for being raised by a gay woman. The same resident once rammed his walker into the plaintiff's scooter hard enough to knock her off a ramp. Another resident rammed her wheelchair into a dining table the plaintiff was at, flipping the table on top of the plaintiff. This resident also spit at the plaintiff. When the plaintiff was in the mailroom, she was struck in the back of the head,...

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